I’ve never had the flu. *Knocks* wood. My son did get the flu, but because he got the flu vaccine, he had a mild case that didn’t last long at all. In fact, he was only really sick one full day, the other three days, he wasn’t his best, but he had felt a lot worse before and didn’t even have the flu.
I never got a flu shot before my son was born, but I knew I wanted to protect him from as many things as possible, the flu among them.
He got his first flu vaccination at 6 months of age and has had the vaccine or flu mist every single year since. He is almost seventeen (sigh) now. I trust our pediatrician, and he highly recommended we start flu immunization at 6 months.
I did do my own research, as well, and I still feel good about my decision.
I volunteer at his school a lot, and I’m around all those precious children that I would not want to give the flu to, nor do I want to get the flu from them. Keeping my son safe and healthy is my motivator. A good one, indeed.
I do know that the flu vaccine and immunizations, in general, can be a hot button among many parents. Still, for me personally, the risks of vaccinations outweigh the risks of the diseases/illnesses my son can get if he isn’t immunized.
What exactly is the flu?
Influenza (the flu) is an infection of the nose, throat, and lungs caused by influenza viruses. There are many different influenza viruses that are constantly changing. They cause illness, hospital stays and deaths in the United States each year. The flu can be very dangerous for children. Each year about 20,000 children younger than 5 years old are hospitalized from flu complications, like pneumonia.
There are many reasons why you should get the flu vaccine, in my humble opinion, but as I said, the most important reason for me is to protect my son.
The three best ways I can help my son avoid the flu
- Get our flu shot annually. My son gets the flu mist, but my husband and I get the flu vaccine.
- Wash our hands – and wash them often. It has been proven that hand washing is your best defense against getting sick and spreading illnesses. The best way to wash your hands is to soap them up and rub vigorously to get them all sudsy and sing “Happy Birthday” all the way through two times. It takes at least 20 seconds to remove germs.
- Avoid being around someone who has the flu, and/or I do not send my child to school if he is sick. If your child isn’t well and you send him/her to school, and another child unknowingly has the flu (especially during flu season), your child will be highly susceptible to their weakened immune system of getting the flu.
Other ways to protect your child against the flu
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Germs spread this way.
- Keep surfaces like bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters, and toys clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.
These everyday steps are great ways to reduce all sorts of illnesses, not just the flu.
The flu vaccine is important for pregnant women, more so than non-pregnant women, because the flu can cause severe illness in pregnant women than women who are not pregnant.
Here is some more facts/info about the flu vaccine:
- To protect against the flu, the first and most important thing you can do is get a flu vaccine for yourself and your child. If you’re a parent, check out http://www.cdc.gov/flu/parents
- Vaccination is recommended for everyone 6 months and older.
- Ask your child’s doctor when they expect flu vaccines to be available in their office, and schedule an appointment for flu vaccination.
- Influenza vaccination is the best method for preventing flu and its potentially severe complications in children.
- Young children and children with long-term health conditions (like asthma, diabetes, or disorders of the brain or nervous system) must get vaccinated. These children are at higher risk of serious flu complications (like pneumonia) if they get the flu.
- The flu can be very dangerous for children. Each year about 20,000 children younger than 5 years old is hospitalized from flu complications, like pneumonia.
- Children 6 months through 8 years of age who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart.
- The risk of serious flu complications requiring hospitalization is highest among children younger than 6 months of age, but they are too young to be vaccinated. The best way to protect them is to make sure people around them are vaccinated.
- CDC recommends a three-step approach to fighting the flu: annual vaccination, everyday preventive actions, and use of antiviral drugs to treat flu if your doctor prescribes them.